“The Magic of the Loons” by Paula Cappa

 (above: I found an image of playing cards featuring a loon!)

For week 38 of the 2015 Deal Me In challenge, I drew the five of hearts. Hearts are my suit dedicated to female authors and I had assigned this card to Paula Cappa’s story, The Magic of the Loons. I’ve been following Paula’s excellent blog for more than a couple years now, and it’s one I recommend, especially for those who like their stories a little on the dark side. (I featured another story of hers for this year’s Deal Me In challenge, “Beyond Castle Frankenstein.”) I own this particular story via an e-copy of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine ( http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Gothic-Resurrected-Magazine-Fall/dp/1502460343 ). This story is also available as a Kindle Single for just 99 cents.

Deal Me In is an annual short story reading challenge (explained here). My list of stories I’m reading this year, with links to those I’ve posted about thus far, may be found here.

“Web-footed, Red-crested Lake Loons*?” Uh, not exactly…

Jackson and Kai are involved in an adulterous affair. Kai claims to love being married but – at least in her case – “cleary monogamy begat monotony” and here she is on the floor of a vacation cabin with Jackson. In the particular tryst this story relates, Kai has donned some kind of ‘nature girl’ garb to role-play her part as “his Loon Woman.” Jackson doesn’t care about all these ’trimmings’ but will go along with anything that leads him to, well, you know.

Jackson is a pilot, and this at least partly explains Kai’s attraction to him. She murmurs, between his kisses, “I love that you fly jet planes every day.” In spite of the somewhat creepy presence of half a dozen loon skulls circling the bed, and a carpet embroidered with the poem, “When Women Were Birds” and ringed with images of sirens, sea-nymphs, and harpies (I think many would call it a day when faced with this level of oddness from a lover, but not our hero!), things are going quite well for Jackson. Until the sound of tires grinding on gravel outside the cabin makes the lovers realize that Kai’s husband (assumed to be in Cleveland), Blix, is approaching…

This was a great story of infidelity gone wrong and the confrontation between Blix and Jackson – and its supernatural aftermath – had me on the edge of my seat…

I’m an amateur birdwatcher, and I do occasionally see loons in these parts. They seem to like the waters in Eagle Creek Park, for example. The kind I see are the “Common Loon” (pictured below), which are indeed a beautiful species worthy of admiration, just maybe not to the extreme that Kai revered them.

*And – to this day – whenever I hear the word “loon” I am reminded of a favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show where, when Barney and Gomer get lost on a camping trip for Opie and his friends, Andy –  in one of his countless schemes over the seasons to help Barney save face or avoid ridicule – invents the call of the “Lake Loon” to lead Barney & Gomer back to their “misplaced” lakeside campsite, whereupon his deputy is praised for his frontiersman skills. Suddenly, he pretends to have known what he was doing all along and the invented lake loon becomes a “web-footed red-crested lake loon.” (sniff)

(below: “Frontiersman” Barney basking in the adulation)